Stephen King’s It

I’ve been revisiting Stephen King books, and then when I’m done a title, I like to take a look at the accompanying film, or mini-series.

I recently finished King’s epic book It. I haven’t read that since I was a teen, probably 13 or 14. I used to make sure that my Mom got King’s new book in hardcover every Xmas. She read it, and then I would get my hands on it. Let me tell you lugging that big heavy book around, along with all my school books… I must’ve really liked it.

And re-reading it, it’s still just as much fun as I remember it. Much like the adults coming back to Derry, parts of the story would come back to me as I read it, as their past was unveiled for them, I would recall it as well; and while It may no longer be my favourite King book, that honor falls to 11/22/63, it’s still in my top 5.

I ate it up, King has such a handle on writing his characters. He makes the children’s world and the adults world come to life with a vivid detail that always allows me to see his books in my head like a movie.

Maybe that’s why, on revisiting the mini-series I was a bit disappointed.

I spent the last couple of weeks back in Derry, walking the streets of both 1958 and 1985, racing around on Silver, reading comic books, dodging bullies, and facing the physical incarnation of fear…

And she’s a bitch.

There are so many moments, scenes, and bits of dialogue that I love…

Almost none of them made it into the mini-series. I know, I know, compressing a 1100 page book into a three-hour mini-series – you’re gonna lose stuff in the translation, but with only three hours, the film rushes it. Our seven young kids are thrown together so quickly, instead of taking its time, that it seems no just coincidental, but completely contrived.

There’s no real emotional hook in the film, you aren’t given a chance to get to know the characters, know not only their fears, but the different things they bring to the Losers’ Club, their friendships…

Not to mention the history of Derry, all the back story, all the previous recurrences of It, or Pennywise, throughout its history. I would have loved to have seen the Black Spot, seen a young Dick Halloran before he went to work at the Overlook, the massacres, the destruction of the factory…

So I think that it’s time to perhaps bring the book to the screen again. But maybe this time take a page from HBO’s work on the Game of Thrones series, don’t confine it to 3 hours, make it an epic, season long event.

I would love to see a more faithful adaptation, taking it’s time, setting things up, building the relationships, the scares, the story. I’m a little stuck on how they might do the Turtle, but there are a couple of ideas toying in my head on that one too.

I think it’s a fantastic idea, especially on one of the cable stations, like HBO, FX or the like, somewhere that they don’t have to worry about language or violence, and they could tell the whole story.

And if one book does well, what’s to say they couldn’t adapt another, and another, bringing all of King’s library to life on the small screen in a way it hasn’t been seen before.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are things I quite like about the mini-series adaptation of It, I think the casting of the kids was almost bang on – especially Jonathan Brandis as Bill, Seth Green as Richie and Brandon Crane as Ben. I quite liked Annette O’Toole as Beverly, John Ritter as Ben and Tim Meadows as Mike Hanlon, but more often than not, I though a lot of the characters were interchangeable because there wasn’t enough character development for them.

Tim Curry is always good, he’s Tim Curry and his Pennywise is probably the character given the most to do, but his character and its motivation is kind of lacking as well, in the book, each of them has an encounter with It, but actually escape from It. In this, it seems quite happy to pop up and tease the children and only kill the ones that don’t have large parts in the screenplay.

I do hope it gets put on the screen again… somebody at HBO see this and get to work on it will you? I’d be happy to help out!

Have you seen It recently, read,or re-read the book? What did you think?

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Revisiting Stephen King

I’ve been wanting to read something spooky for a while, and it’s tough to come across books and authors who actually can creep me out with a tale of the supernatural.

So I decided to go back to my youth.

Like most folks, I read a lot of Stephen King in my teen and high school years. They were awesome books.

And they still are.

So I’ve started reading King again, in no particular order as well. I’ll read a novel, then a collection of short stories, and I have to say I am having a great time. The novels I’ve read (or reread as the case may be) so far are 11/22/63 (quite possibly my favorite King book of all time, replacing It), Cell, The Dark Tower series (except for the most recent one – which is an amazing epic, worlds-spanning fantasy western series that has no equal), Tommyknockers, The Shining and It. The collections have been Night Shift, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and Everything’s Eventual.

The man has a gift, whether the genre is your preferred corner of fiction or not, most will admit to that. Yes, there are times when the story can seem overly long, I noticed that in It, but even then, when you take it for what it really is, building and expanding the mythology of the worlds he creates, then it really is enjoyable.

And oh the connections!

It’s easy enough to simply google them, or use wikipedia, but there’s a singular enjoyment when revisiting material you haven’t read in decades, and you see the little threads tying his universes together.

I love that Jake in 11/22/64 passes briefly through Derry, and meets Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh from It a short time after the epic events of that tale, and that Dick Halloran the psychically gifted cook of the Overlook hotel in The Shining shows up in one of the tales about Derry in It.

Haven, of course gets mentioned a couple of times, Tommyknockers takes place inside that little burg, but it’s not recognizable as the television show that shares the same name and is loosely based on Mr.King’s The Colorado Kid.

There are some undeniable creepy and iconic images in his books, and I tend to like his supernatural tales, as opposed to something like Tommyknockers. The idea of the kind of evil seen in things like The Shining or It just engage me more. I like It, I think because of the fact that part of it is told from an adult’s point of view, and the rest is from the viewpoint of the same characters but as children.

The nostalgia that is so prevalent in 11/22/63 is also right there in It, and I think that’s part of the appeal. That and the fact that a kid’s life can be like that, seemingly facing great evil during your summer days, but still needing to be back at home for dinner and chores. I also love the fact that It, or Pennywise the clown as he is more commonly known (masterfully played in the small screen adaptation by Tim Curry) could appear as one of your greatest fears. The book is filmed with frightening moments and images, the idea of pictures coming to life has stayed with me so long that I worked it into my horror novel.

I do believe my next book may be The Talisman, which I remember starting when I was younger, but never finishing. I’d like to amend that, and of course read the sequel. I’m also looking forward to revisiting Salem’s Lot, because I love a good vampire story.

What are some of your favorite King books or short stories? What one should I read next?